In the time bewteen 1996's Test For Echo & the 2002 release of Vapor Trails, this Rush fan was fairly pessimistic about seeing another studio album by Rush. But when I'd started reading word that they were indeed recording again back in 2001, I was more than a little excited...& frankly surprised considering the hardship Neil had endured. I knew this album was either gonna be a blast of renewed positive energy or very dark.
Vapor Trails comes through with brave hope. Appropriately, it's Neil's aggressive opening drums we hear on the slightly manic "One Little Victory" & the song pretty much sets the stage for the rest of the album. Taking their 'back-to-basics' approach of the previous 3 albums even further, VT also has a distinct 'In Your Face' sound. This album is heavy. In volume & production quality. Its been criticized as being too muddy or raw sounding, but to my ears, this is the heavy Rush album I'd been waiting for for a looong time. What they'd accomplished on Counterparts in terms of overall hard *rock*, they pushed to the red on VT & songs like "Peacable Kingdom", "Secret Touch", "Earthshine", & the urgent "Freeze" showcase this "new millennium" power. All without sacrificing melody in Rush's familiar way. You can even gather round a camp fire & sing along to the 60s-like chorus of "How It Is"!
Vapor Trails is a success and is a great reunion for a band that had taken so many years on hiatus. While some still question their future as an active band, VT proves that Geddy, Alex & Neil can still rock with the best of them!
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